Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dr Elizabeth Dowsett in hospital

From the ME Association's website a few weeks ago:
Just before the start of the 'ME Question Time' meeting in Colchester on Saturday we were given the news that Dr Betty Dowsett had been taken to hospital.

We understand from Jane Colby, who was in touch with the hospital yesterday (Sunday) that Betty is 'OK in herself' and is undergoing tests at the moment.

If anyone would like to send a card to Betty, the address is:

Dr Elizabeth Dowsett
Bedwell Ward
Southend University Hospital
Prittlewell Chase
With fond memories of some interesting telephone conversations I had with Dr Dowsett several years ago, I have sent a card to this extraordinary woman who has devoted her life to ME/CFS patients.
- - -

Dr. E.G. Dowsett describes M.E.

"To the very few physicians still practicing today who began seeing patients with this illness some 40 years ago and who have continued to record and publish their clinical findings throughout, the current enthusiasm for renaming and reassigning this serious disability to subgroups of putative and vague 'fatigue' entities, must appear more of a marketing exercise than a rational basis for essential international research.
It was not always so unnecessarily complicated!"
-Dr. E. G. Dowsett-
Redefinitions of ME/CFS –
A 20th Century Phenomenon

Dr. E.G. Dowsett, UK microbiologist, immunologist and virologist, had an interest in hospital infections and epidemiology when she began collaborating with Dr. Melvin Ramsay on the study of ME. in 1976. Since then she has been an outspoken advocate for patients and researchers on properly distinguishing the well-defined historic disease ME from CFS. (See A Rose By Any Other Name)

In her article with Ramsay, McCartney and Bell, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) - A Persistent Enteroviral Infection? (abstract), Dr. Dowsett states, "In our opinion, two major errors are responsible for the present confusion surrounding the case definition, aetiology and diagnosis of M.E. First, there has been a failure to distinguish the syndrome from post-viral debility following Epstein-Barr mononucleosis, influenza and other common fevers. Compared with M.E., these lack the dramatic effect of exercise upon muscle function, the multi-system involvement, diurnal variability of symptoms and prolonged relapsing course. Laboratory tests can distinguish chronic mononucleosis and other infections which, as our results show, may occasionally co-exist with M.E. and, by their immunosuppressive effect, precipitate relapse. Second, there has been a failure to recognize the unique epidemiological pattern of M.E., which, from earliest accounts, has led to confusion with non-paralytic poliomyelitis."

Dowsett, Ramsey, McCartney and Bell Definition summary:

"Endemic prevalence alternate with periodic epidemics, showing a curious predilection for female staff of health care and teaching institutions. Maximum incidence in both sexes occurs in the third decade. M.E. is a multi-system syndrome including nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine and other involvement, distinguished by severe muscle fatigue following trivial exertion. Other characteristics include high morbidity, low mortality, a prolonged relapsing course and variation in intensity of symptoms within and between episodes, tending to chronicity."

Patient Selection

"We adopted the following clinical criteria for investigation of M.E.: a syndrome commonly initiated by respiratory and/or gastro-intestinal infection but an insidious or more dramatic onset following neurological, cardiac or endocrine disability occurs. The pathognomonic features are: a complaint of general or local muscular fatigue following minimal exertion with prolonged recovery time; neurological disturbance, especially of cognitive, autonomic and sensory functions; variable involvement of the cardiac and other systems; a prolonged relapsing course."

The full article
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) - A Persistent Enteroviral Infection?
is reprinted in Dr. Byron Hyde's textbook,
The Clinical and Scientific Basis of M.E./CFS.



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